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Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

Government ethics advocates are raising concerns that Trump is blatantly dodging the Federal Advisory Committee Act, a 45-year-old law that requires advisory committee meetings — where influential business leaders are expected to give advice or recommendations to a President or agency — to be open the public.

Why it matters: This is the rule that initially caused Obama's similar CEO council to hold its meetings publicly. It's also the one that got Dick Cheney and his Energy Task Force in trouble. The point of the FACA law is to prevent special interests from having outsized sway in private meetings.

"I think the White House is skirting the law," Norm Eisen, former Obama ethics chair and Chairman of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told Axios. "If they're having meetings that are subject to FACA, or even close, they should follow the rules."

Beyond today's meeting: The group filed a complaint with the White House this week taking issue with Trump's use of an advisory committee to get advice on potential Supreme Court justice nominations. "The public is entitled to know how the committee conducted its business and the recommendations it provided the president," the complaint says.

Possible pattern: Watchdogs worry Trump is purposefully naming and structuring his groups in ways that allow him to avoid the rules. For example, the administration last week announced a "manufacturing jobs initiative" including more than two dozen CEOs and labor leaders. The announcement included a disclaimer: No consensus advice or recommendations resulting from group deliberations or interaction is expected or will be solicited. That language suggests officials are well-aware of the legal requirements around these kinds of meetings, Eisen said.

What they're saying: A White House official told Politico that the groups have been structured and named "to ensure everything we have done...is fully compliant with all laws, including FACA."

Go deeper

Schumer's m(aj)ority checklist

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Capitalizing on the Georgia runoffs, achieving a 50-50 Senate and launching an impeachment trial are weighty to-dos for getting Joe Biden's administration up and running on Day One.

What to watch: A blend of ceremonies, hearings and legal timelines will come into play on Tuesday and Wednesday so Chuck Schumer can actually claim the Senate majority and propel the new president's agenda.

The dark new reality in Congress

National Guard troops keep watch at security fencing. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

This is how bad things are for elected officials and others working in a post-insurrection Congress:

  • Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) said she had a panic attack while grocery shopping back home.
  • Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said police may also have to be at his constituent meetings.
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told a podcaster he brought a gun to his office on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 because he anticipated trouble with the proceedings that day.
Off the Rails

Episode 3: Descent into madness ... Trump: "Sometimes you need a little crazy"

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 3: The conspiracy goes too far. Trump's outside lawyers plot to seize voting machines and spin theories about communists, spies and computer software.

President Trump was sitting in the Oval Office one day in late November when a call came in from lawyer Sidney Powell. "Ugh, Sidney," he told the staff in the room before he picked up. "She's getting a little crazy, isn't she? She's really gotta tone it down. No one believes this stuff. It's just too much."